Former England skipper Nasser Hussain believes the main reason for Test captain Ben Stokes taking retirement from ODI cricket was the all-rounder’s inablity to keep up with the physical demands of multi-format cricket.
The 31-year-old Stokes announced this Monday that he was retiring from ODIs after Tuesday’s match against South Africa at his home ground, Riverside Ground, at Chester-le-Street in Durham.
Stokes made his ODI debut against Ireland in 2011 and has scored 2,924 runs in 105 matches, averaging 38.98, including three centuries and 21 half-centuries, and picked 74 wickets at an average of 42.39. He captained the ODI side during last summer’s 3-0 series victory against Pakistan when first-choice members were unavailable due to COVID-19 outbreak.
On Tuesday in his farewell ODI against South Africa, the all-rounder could score just five runs in England’s 62-runs loss and also went wicket-less.
Hussain said that Stokes was in a “good place mentally” and his decision to retire from the 50-over format was mainly due to physical exhaustion.
“Speaking to Ben Stokes on Tuesday, it seemed he was in a good place mentally and his decision to quit one-day internationals is much more about how he is physically. His body, and his left knee in particular, is the problem. Mark Wood was working with us at Sky this match, and he said you can always tell where Stokes is with his body when you watch the follow-through of his bowling,” Hussain said in his column for Daily Mail.
“Compared to years gone by, when he was fully fit, Tuesday was drastically different. After a couple of balls he was limping off towards the side of the pitch, not fully maintaining his momentum through the crease and down it.”
Workload management has become a major issue with cricketers across the world, and even though Stokes guided the Test side to four successive wins – three against New Zealand and one against India in the rescheduled fifth Test at Edgbaston – he has looked jaded.
“There has been an admission that he cannot keep up with the demands of being the multi-format international cricketer that we have become used to and it was great, in a time when people are questioning Test match cricket and players are retiring from it to go exclusively to the shortest format, to see someone value it so much that they want to go the other way and prolong it. With those physical challenges, something had to give, and let’s be honest 50-over cricket is the form that doesn’t quite float a cricketer’s boat.”
Hussain added the players were in two minds given the lucrative nature of T20 cricket and the charm of Test cricket, adding that Stokes’ decision to quit ODIs should be a wakeup call for the cricket administrators.
“Twenty20 is lucrative, leads to opportunities with franchises and is short and sharp, while Test match cricket is something you love and hate in equal measure because of what it takes out of you. It is a mental battle that tests you to the absolute limits. Yes, his decision was something of a shout to the administrators because at the age of 31 someone like him shouldn’t have to retire from a certain format.”